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Old Posts From My Old Blog: The Making of a Humanist

I originally posted this on my old blog, which I'm in the process of shutting down. I'll be copying and reposting some of my "greatest hits" from 2008-2010.


This one talks about my religious history.


===
3/7/08


Okay, if you've gotten this far, you've already browsed through and are now thinking, it's just one grumpy chick complaining about her life. Whassup?

Well, if you're "adult" enough to handle some serious irreverence and anti-religious sentiment, then help yourself to the mini-fridge and extend your stay. Otherwise, you'd best move on to some nicer person's blog.

I. DON'T. BELIEVE. IN. GOD.

Surprisingly, yes, I go to church, and it's a very liberal church bursting at the seams with atheists! And agnostics! And pagans! And freethinkers! And pantheists! And disillusioned ex-Christians! And gay people! And people from mixed marriages! And ethnic Jews! And Native Americans! And various combinations thereof!


And we all get along great! And the kids are well-adjusted! And we have FUN! And we get together and drink WINE! And BEER! And we DON'T say grace before, during or after the meal, unless someone feels like it and then that's their business! And plenty of us swear! And plenty of us don't! And when we run into each other on Tuesday, or Wednesday or Thursday, everybody behaves exactly the same way they did when you saw them on Sunday!

And some of us wonder, Did we come from somewhere? Are we gonna go somewhere after we die? Is there another chapter after this one ends? Was there something before this one started? Is it all a dream?

Some of us get together to share those questions, and plenty of others sit that discussion out. Instead, they wait for a good political debate.

I love the folks I go to church with. Before finding this place, I didn't go to church for about 5 years.

In 2002 I made a drastic change in the life I'd been living for the past 15 years. First, I stopped praying. Stopped saying "please" and "thank you" to some invisible entity that was supposed to hear me and care about me. Because every time I said please, I was sure NOT to get what I asked for. And if I got some little thing and said thank you, the next day the little thing was gone. I asked myself, what will happen if I don't pray? If I'm just honest and say, Hey, I wish something good would happen. And sure enough, that's exactly when things started improving in my life. I stopped going to church because I wasn't forming any meaningful friendships or relationships, no matter how much I wanted to. I was reserved and standoffish around my fellow congregants because I didn't quite trust them. I knew I wasn't letting my guard down and being myself for fear of being judged, and I assumed everybody else was playing the same game. And I stopped reading the Bible -- I'd already read through it once and attended countless Bible studies, and listened to Christian talk radio and watched the 700 Club and buried myself as far into Christianity as I possibly could and I ... still wasn't getting it. I didn't feel exalted, or special, or saved, or any better or cleaner or newer than I would have under any other circumstances. I tried. And tried. And stuck with it for 15 years and plodded along as best I could, thinking, I'm just a bad person and I'm so glad God loves me because I don't deserve it, blah, blahh, b l a a a a a a h h h h........

But that day, 5 [now 9] years ago, I sat up and said, No, I am not a bad person. I am a normal, flawed person, and I have it within ME to change that. If I make that my full-time job instead of delegating the work to someone whose credentials are questionable at best, I might get somewhere. At the very least, I will be in control of my life, in the driver's seat as it were, rather than feeling like a trusting hitchhiker who has just been kidnapped by Leatherface or Joan Crawford.

It took a fair amount of time to really cast off the religious shell that I'd constructed around myself. It was a gradual thing. It took even longer to realize that I needed to re-rethink my political and social views, because I had become quite conservative during my Christian period. My project was to go back to a time when I felt happy about myself and about my life, and it occurred to me that I am a social idealist who does not think less of poor people because they're poor or black people because they're black, or gay people because they're gay, or female people because they're female! I had to wonder, where the hell had I gone to?

So here I am, feeling like I've not only been let out of prison but found not guilty, acquitted, pardoned and issued an official apology by whoever put me in prison in the first place. You get out of a bad place, and in the midst of enjoying the good place, you find yourself feeling very, very sorry for the people who are still in the bad place. And you also get a little irritated and impatient with people who tell you how great it is on the inside. And very, very upset with people who make public statements about how everybody ought to be in the prison, and at the very least, everybody should have to wear prison clothes and eat prison food. Even those of us who aren't in there anymore, because, bless our hearts, we just don't know any better, and sooner or later, we'll find our way back in.

My ex-husband, Doug, is someone I've disagreed with on numerous points for numerous years. But on many, many occasions he expressed views of religion that I now heartily endorse. He said, religion is the greatest barrier to social progress ever invented. He said, religion sucks. And he was right.

Religion is: An invisible Barbie or Ken doll that you put visible clothes on. Or as Dawkins so bravely puts it, it's a FUCKING DELUSION!

Look, I'm the person who can look at a jigsaw puzzle that has a few pieces missing and say "Oh, what a nice landscape!" I don't have to have every last piece, every last mystery explained. I think the bravest thing in the world (another tip of the hat to the ex) is to say "I. DON'T. KNOW."

Try it -- it rolls off the tongue very nicely and --tip of hat to George Carlin -- I am still here typing this blog and therefore I was not "struck dead" for admitting that I DON'T KNOW how the universe originated, why at one point it wasn't there and then it was. I DON'T KNOW what happens to us after we die. I DON'T KNOW if there's some predetermined purpose that put us here. I have read James Hillman's The Soul's Code, and while the book has plenty of shortcomings, it makes extremely valid points. It's okay to not know the answers but to dream and speculate and imagine. I'm not ashamed to do it -- but there's a HUGE difference between doing that and declaring "I know all the answers right down to the last detail and/or if I don't have the answers, there's a person -- or a book -- that does." BULL. SHIT.

OK, I hear ya. I'll lighten up. Time for a comedy break:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=X8evsSNdXcs


Thank you for staying with me this far.

I spend time with a lot of people online and am acquainted with some hardliners who insist that they are here to "serve God." THOSE PEOPLE ANNOY ME. Other people who annoy me: People who are doing fine in their lives, or those who weren't at one point but then got straight and started making it work who say "I give all the glory to God."

STOP!

Just for today, try giving the glory to YOU!

Just for today, try saying "I'm here to serve ME. And everything I care about. My family, my friends, certain things in the world that I wish to see improved, random strangers, etc etc." Personally, I find that much more motivating than mumbling some rote-memorized prayer, or talking into the air and really expecting some(one/thing) to answer you back.

Here's another link that I love to share:

http://www.losingmyreligion.com/essays/abuse.html

It's very, VERY thought-provoking. And TRUE.

I could go on for hours with this. But if you've read other entries in this blog, you'll already know:
  • I'm opinionated
  • I'm somewhat curmudgeonly (at least here)
  • My life isn't perfect by a long shot but --
  • It's being lived as much ON MY TERMS as I can get it, and that's why I'm essentially a happy person and have to make a serious effort to keep up the snark.
Hmm. I thought all happy folks had Jesus somewhere in their lives.....

????

Wha hoppened??

Good night!

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